• 04 Jan 2021 10:17 AM | Doris Cardenas (Administrator)

    Enjoy the next story in our web series submitted by Paul Blobaum of Governors State University Archives.


    In March 2020, Governors State University extended its Spring break one week, and returned to online delivery.  The Library has been closed since March, and there are no plans to reopen. After being solo for 3 years I had just hired a FTE in December 2019 with the plan to take over Archives coordination following my planned retirement in 2021.  We kept ourselves busy wrapping up GSU 50th Anniversary observance projects, not the least of which is a major historic video digitization project of over 125 reels, begun in April 2019.  We had planned to use Media Communications students to do final production work, collect metadata, and publishing to our digital repository; but I wound up having to do it myself.  I taught myself to edit digital video MP4 and MOV files using open source software (Avid Composer First), on my Archives remote workstation using VPN and Remote Desktop.  Following numerous technical problems, I was able to publish very large files using modified URLS in Dropbox to our Digital Commons repository, OPUS, at  Archives projects were farmed out to library staff needing work projects they could do at home, so we are able to do projects that would never get done for another 50 years, such as data entry of legacy tractor-feed printouts of video and audio tape collections, inventory and metadata for 50 years worth of 35mm color slides, and metadata for digital collections.  Also, I taught myself the open source programs OBS Studio a Virtual Dub, and have been digitizing VHS historic VHS tapes from the archives at home, resolving numerous technical issues with audio/video synchronization by trial and error, and pluck.

    Online learning and working remotely will continue well into 2021.  We venture to campus when we have to, to use Microfilm or to locate physical materials in the processed and unprocessed collections.  In May I began hosting a Tuesday afternoon coffee hour for our library staff colleagues on Zoom, which continues.  On a hot July evening, I hosted a Russian Fulbright scholar who was doing research on American suburbs from 1950s-1960s at the University of Kansas.  The scholar made a special overnight trip to Chicago just to see the Park Forest 1950s Museum housed at St. Mary's Church in Park Forest, and I volunteered to pick him up from the University Park train station, give him a tour, and return him to the train station so he could catch a train to Omaha Nebraska the next morning. We took off our face masks just for the photo.  The year has been surreal but we are getting a lot of long standing projects done!!  

    Left: Alexandr Zhidchenko, University of Kansas Fulbright scholar.  Right: Paul Blobaum, Governors State University

  • 15 Dec 2020 10:49 AM | Doris Cardenas (Administrator)

    Please enjoy this week's story which was submitted by Jerice Barrios from the North American Province of the Cenacle. 


    Quarantine began for me at 2pm on March 17, 2020. As soon as I received the go-ahead from my supervisor, I packed up my laptop and files, got on the train, and headed home. During the three-month mandatory lockdown, my primary emotion was gratitude. I was grateful to be in profession where working from home was an option. I was grateful to the Cenacle Sisters for considering the Archives an essential service. I was also grateful to my family who supported me, giving me an “office space” and weaving their lives around my schedule.  

    I had never really worked from home before, so I needed all the help I could get. In the first weeks, I learned just how much self-discipline it takes to log eight hours of work when all you really want to do is stay in bed reading the latest coronavirus news on your phone. My love/hate relationship with Zoom meetings began during this time: yes, a Zoom meeting is better than nothing, but I definitely get tired of only seeing people through little electronic boxes.

    Baby Yoda was my work from home desk mascot.

    When lockdown restrictions lifted in June, my assistant and I were informed that we were expected to return to the office. For the most part, I was glad to be able to get out of the house and back to some semblance of “normal,” even though I was very aware that the coronavirus was still out there, and still as dangerous as ever. Also at that time, the political situation in Chicago was volatile. Our planned June 1 return to the office had to be postponed for a week because our downtown building was boarded up due to the riots in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

    Working in the Loop is a stark reminder that we are living in a very specific cultural and economic moment. With so many office workers absent, downtown businesses and restaurants are shutting down. Some may return, some may not. Uncertainty is the mood of the times. With COVID-19 cases increasing again, we may be headed for a second mandatory lockdown, but in the face of the unknown, I believe more than ever in the importance of archivists as the keepers of the historical record. History gives me hope: Chicago has survived disasters before, and we will survive COVID-19 as well.

    Closed and boarded up restaurants are becoming a common sight in downtown Chicago.

  • 30 Nov 2020 6:36 PM | Doris Cardenas (Administrator)

    This week's story is submitted by April Anderson-Zorn from the Dr. Jo Ann Rayfield Archives at Illinois State University.


    I’m south of the suburbs in Bloomington/Normal, IL at Illinois State University.  Before the pandemic, I commuted from Champaign, Illinois, to Normal.  My husband was working at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, so we rented a house for a time.  Then, late last year, I became pregnant.  His contract ended early this year (he works in tech theatre), so we decided to move back to Bloomington.  The day we signed the papers to buy our 95-year-old house was the day the Governor put the shelter-at-home order in place.  Our plan to move the following weekend was pushed up to the next day!  We panic-packed our house and moved while I was seven months pregnant.  Then, in late May, I had complications that sent me to the hospital in Champaign, which resulted in the healthy (but month early) birth of our daughter, Evelyn.  All of this while I was working from home!  I ran the Archives, assisted faculty and students where we could with reference requests, and launched our COVID collecting site.  Honestly, I think this is the busiest I’ve ever been, despite working from home.


    Having said that, my new co-worker is quite adorable.  

    Also, our local NPR station did a story about our pandemic experience:

  • 16 Nov 2020 5:44 PM | Doris Cardenas (Administrator)

    Enjoy the next story in our web series submitted by Allison Schein Holmes of WTTW/Chicago PBS and WFMT Chicago.


    When rumors of the lockdown started, I had to prep my new team for remote working.  I was already set up at home; for three days a week, I worked remotely in the afternoons.  One staff member was able to transition while another had some complications.  They were already not comfortable with the office's technology, so setting them up with a new laptop was a whole other challenge.  While they have gotten better since the pandemic started, I often have to troubleshoot with someone who does not always know how to explain the issue.   Our organization was not wholly equipped to send everyone home with working machines, so many had to take their desktops since laptops were becoming scarce!

    I have found that I get into the "office" an hour earlier, making me way more productive than ever!  I was able to process over a thousand backlogged files due to having large chunks of time with no interruptions.  My coworkers are a little noisy, though, and insist on following me wherever I go. That is a challenge! 

    I have learned how to bake bread and signed up for a CSA weekly delivery to improve my cooking skills since we are not going out as much, or sadly, a few places that we love have been affected by the pandemic.  While I enjoy working from home, I miss the tapes and the people I work with. I hope that I will return to the office once a week for about a month to keep digitization moving, but as another lockdown is approaching, I am not sure how viable that will be.

  • 16 Nov 2020 10:55 AM | Doris Cardenas (Administrator)

    The Programming Subcommittee invites you to submit a story for our Chicago Archives in the Time of Covid series. This written series will be published on the News Section of the CAA website and will be an opportunity for members to share how your work and life has been affected by the pandemic. This has been a very complex and difficult time for many; we have also seen so many stories of hope, love, and perseverance. Through it all, many of us and our places of employment or school have tried to adapt to this new reality to continue our work as best as we can. We would like to chronicle how this has impacted our CAA community and hear from our members what life has been like these past 8 months.

    If you are interested, please share a few paragraphs with us about your work and life since March and a photo that is representative of your experience (e.g. yourself at your new work-from-home station, something interesting you have been working on, a newly adopted pet, etc). We have included a few prompts below to help, please feel free to answer any or all of these questions, or respond in your own way without the prompts. You can send replies or questions directly to me at

    • How did your work change during the pandemic? If you shifted to working from home how has your employer or school handled the transition?
    • What are some of the difficulties you have faced working in this new environment? What are some of the benefits?
    • Did you become an expert sourdough maker, learn how to knit, or run a virtual marathon? Please feel free to share any personal accomplishments or news, new hobbies, or skills you have gained over these past eight months.

  • 02 Nov 2020 12:58 PM | Doris Cardenas (Administrator)

    CAA members are sharing stories of how the pandemic has affected their lives and work. Here is the first story of our web series submitted by Drew Davis from the College of American Pathologists.

    Pandemics, Anniversaries and Preschool

    COVID-19 has presented a unique challenge to archivists. As professionals whose fates are bound to our collections, COVID forced some of us to forge a new workflow apart from the physical materials in our repositories. Other archivists currently face the loss of their position and the difficult task of seeking new employment during a pandemic. COVID continues to touch archivists and their loved ones on both ends of this spectrum.

    My experience falls somewhere between these extremes. My organization, a nonprofit medical association, is approaching our 75th anniversary next year. To commemorate, we are producing an updated organizational history edited by one of our former presidents. My original task in this work was to conduct historical review of this publication, while my supervisor served as a staff-member liaison and managed the financial and contractual aspects of the project. Unfortunately, my supervisor sadly and unexpectedly passed away from a non-COVID related medical complication in March of this year. Her death occurred at the same time that our organization shifted to remote work, and I had to simultaneously adjust to working from home, reporting to a new supervisor and taking on many of my former supervisor’s project duties.

     In addition, working from home with young children has proved extremely difficult. My children (aged 3 and 5) both started remote preschool in September, and on many days I must unexpectedly leave my “office” (our basement) to help corral them back into their virtual classrooms. Other times of day I find myself trying to focus on a task while the sound of little footsteps patter back and forth across the ceiling above me. There has been more than one occasion where my children have been “surprise guests” in a staff meeting. While I did receive permission to come into the archives one day a week to work on reference requests, it is unclear if that permission will be rolled back as Illinois infection rates climb back up.

    I have settled into a COVID working routine, and with the help of a part-time assistant archivist have been able to maintain the workflow of the archives and our historical publication despite working (mostly) offsite. While I consider myself extremely lucky that I still have an archives job, I cannot deny that I yearn for the days when personal coworker interaction and work in my stacks were the norm.

  • 22 Oct 2020 10:05 AM | Daniel Harper

    The Chicago Area Archivists Steering Committee would like to announce a new pilot program, the CAA Resume Review.

    Members can participate in two ways:

    1. Members can volunteer to review resumes and provide comments to members submitting their resumes for review.

    2. Members can submit their resumes for review and receive comments from fellow CAA members.

    If you would like to volunteer to review resumes, please fill out the following form:

    Resume Reviewer Volunteer Form

    If you like to have your resume reviewed by fellow CAAers, please fill out the form below. Since this form will require you to upload files, you will be asked to sign into your Google account.

    Submit Resume for Review

    Members at all stages of their careers are encouraged to participate!

    If you volunteer to review resumes, you will be sent one to two resumes with no contact information and asked to return comments to the service coordinator.

    If you would like your resume reviewed, it will be assigned to a CAA volunteer who will provide comments and suggestions through the service coordinator.

    CAA will make every effort to keep reviewers and reviewees anonymous, but we cannot guarantee anonymity.

    As this is a pilot program, we will set a deadline for the first round of reviewers and reviewees to submit by October 30, 2020. CAA hopes to offer additional rounds if the pilot program is successful and utilized by members

    .If you have any questions, please contact Ashley Howdeshell at

  • 14 Sep 2020 2:36 PM | Jill Waycie

    As of September 1, 2020, the Steering Committee has approved a change in prorated initial membership length for new members and renewal periods for existing members:

    All renewals and new memberships received on or after September 1 will be applied to the following year.

    If you're a new member, this gives you 16 months for the price of 12! If you're renewing, you now have even more time to renew your membership (we'll still send you the usual reminders).

    More details about joining CAA or renewing your membership can be found here.

  • 05 Aug 2020 9:43 PM | Brittan Nannenga

    If you’re attending this year’s virtual Joint Annual Meeting of the Council of State Archivists and the Society of American Archivists or plan on following what’s happening online, CAA has a few ways for you to keep up with the action!

    New this year! If you want to connect with other CAA members for some informal conversations about conference sessions and activities, then join us on CAA Slack in the #saa2020 channel.

    We also invite you to use the #CAAatSAA2020 hashtag when posting content on social media, and follow our posts on Facebook and Twitter about conference activities, including Chicago area archivists’ participation in conference presentations.

  • 03 Aug 2020 10:55 AM | Daniel Harper

    Adopted by the Chicago Area Archivists Steering Committee on July 31, 2020.

    CAA stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and condemns the police brutality that ended the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Laquan McDonald, Jemel Roberson, Bettie Jones, Quintonio LeGrier, and many other named and unnamed Black lives.

    Racism and its deadly consequences are rooted in the history of the United States and these incidents are the direct result of the legacy of slavery, oppression, violence, and death that structural racism has imposed on Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color (BIPOC) and their communities. Structural racism and a culture of white supremacy permeate  our society and systems. It is evident in Chicago in a number of ways, including extreme segregation, housing, education inequality, environmental injustices, overpoliced communities, and corruption within the police department. 

    Archives in Chicago are no exception. We acknowledge the ways that archives and the archival profession have supported and continue to support racist systems and practices. Archives support a culture of white supremacy when they maintain a historical record that is primarily white and male and when they exclude or distort voices of communities of color. We, as archivists, need to center and amplify voices of BIPOC individuals and organizations within the historical record. We must identify and dismantle harmful and racist practices in all aspects of archival work, including collecting, descriptive practices, programming, and exhibits.

    As members of a profession, archivists are overwhelmingly white and female. Archival institutions and workers exclude and alienate BIPOC archivists and reinforce white supremacy. They do that through microaggressions at work, racist actions toward colleagues, and racially-coded hiring practices, and workplace culture.

    We acknowledge that CAA needs to change. By not actively working to address the structural racism inherent in the archives in the Chicago area and within the organization itself, CAA has largely ignored and contributed to the inequalities in our profession. CAA has done harm to BIPOC archivists by perpetuating a white supremacist culture that has discouraged some persons from joining our organization. As part of this work, the CAA Steering Committee and Subcommittees will strive to more actively engage CAA’s Statement on Diversity and Inclusion, to support and empower BIPOC archivists and students, and to continue to work to identify and dismantle racism within the CAA organization.

    We implore our membership to join us. We will strive to provide our membership with the resources and tools to do this kind of anti-racist work within their institutions. We all have a role to play in the fight for justice and equality. Whether you are a student or the director of an archive, a librarian or a records manager, or anywhere in between, archives play a role in our professional and personal lives. We joined CAA because we care about archives and the archival profession as a whole. We all have work to do, and we urge our white and non-Black membership, in particular, to prioritize anti-racist work and professional engagement. 

    To that end, CAA has compiled a list of readings and resources to educate and support all of us as we work to combat racism in our organization and institutions and cultivate a more inclusive archival profession, a truly representative historical record, and equal access to our collections. We encourage our members to share resources and participate in an ongoing discussion about these concerns. 

    We all can and must do better.


    Chicago Area Archivists Steering Committee

    Dan Harper, chair

    Rene Aranzamendez

    Ashley Howdeshell

    Erin Matson

    Michelle McCoy

    Rebekah McFarland

    Andy Meyer

    Andrew Thompson

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